This book is full of everything: there is history, fascination, fairy tale, nobility, love, wealth and all of Sicily that usually seduces so much. Who could be better than a prince to introduce the reader to such a wonderful and crucial period for the island and Italy itself? This book, written by a real prince (flesh and blood), is a cult of the Italian literature. Immediately after its publication it became very popular and the famous director Luchino Visconti in 1963, inspired by the book, shoot the movie “Il Gattopardo” with Burt Lancaster.
The story in the book belongs to that sort of charming traditional tale that hands down a family saga generation by generation and that lets you think about the meaning of life itself. For the main character in fact, Tomasi followed as a model his great grandfather (he even used the same name – Fabrizio). Unfortunately, the author of The Leopard died before the book was edited, because two publishing houses he contacted weren’t interested in it. The book was eventually published the year after Tomasi’s death, in 1958. Giuseppe Tomasi di Lampedusa wrote these pages in the ‘50s (exactly between 1954 and 1957), spending his mornings seated at a small table in a then-famous bar of the city centre. He wasn’t rich anymore and both his personal circumstances and the historical situation disappointed him. For this reason the story – set in the 19th century – is under the shadow of this negative influence. Moreover he was interested in French literature, which exactly in these years was particularly focused on topics such as ‘the death’, ‘the decline of the society and morality’ and ‘the implacable flowing of time’.
However his style is charming, the description are clear and the plot will grip you, as if you were sited on the side and were looking at the scene from a privileged viewpoint. In addition to this, he describes the Sicily of the rich, of the aristocracy, and its amazing dancing parties. He tells us about the fascination of the countryside and about the way they lived during a period of big changes. Changes that even if they seemed far affect the main character’s family as well. The novel takes place in Sicily during the Risorgimento and Garibaldi’s invasion of Sicily (May 1860), and these historical events set the frame for the real main character of the book: the Sicilian essence. Prince Fabrizio – prince Tomasi di Lampedusa actually – explains, during a well-known dialog, what he supposes to be the main features of the people living on the island, both the positive ones and the negatives.
Both the fortune of the book and the success of the movie have contributed to widely share this particular interpretation all around the word, even though in fact he is just looking at what’s happening with detachment and indifference, and in retrospective. This book is a real classic of the Italian literature, one that everyone should read several times, not necessary before your holiday in Palermo, but just because you will find every time something new in it.